Manchester City’s “survivors’ scheme” – offering compensation – is almost certainly unprecedented in British sport.
It is a way for the boys – now men – who were abused by Barry Bennell or John Broome to claim compensation.
It offers an alternative course of action to making claims through the courts, which can be a time consuming and emotionally damaging process.
It is, in effect, an admission from Manchester City of the responsibility the club has to bear for abuse that occurred while Bennell, one of the most prolific paedophiles in British history, worked with junior players at the club.
The former scout and coach was not paid a salary by City but had three stints at the club’s old Maine Road campus between 1976 and 1984.
Broome, who died in 2010, was a talent spotter and junior coach, and was involved at City from 1964-71. Some of his victims are also expected to claim through the fund.
It is understood that the legal firm representing the largest number of Bennell’s victims has indicated it will recommend claiming through this method, as opposed to via a court.
Compensation figures will take into account “career blight” – a form of loss of earnings – legal fees, therapy fees and the psychological impact of the abuse.
It is expected that up to 40 victims could apply to the scheme, while payments made to those worst affected could run into six figures.
It is understood that City have familiarised themselves with a case in the local area in which compensation was offered to the victims of Ian Paterson, a disgraced breast surgeon who operated on women unnecessarily.
In that instance, a £37m fund, established by Spire Healthcare – the firm that runs the two private hospitals where Paterson worked – as well as his insurers, was shared between almost 750 victims.
The announcement of City’s “survivors’ scheme” is in stark contrast to the current stance from Crewe Alexandra, another club where Barry Bennell worked and carried out much of his abuse.
Former Crewe player Steve Walters is taking the club to court after he claimed they told him he had waited too long to report sex abuse by Bennell.
Manchester City’s review into historical sexual abuse is ongoing and the fund being established will not alter the path of this process.
An independent FA inquiry into football’s sex abuse scandal, led by Clive Sheldon QC, has been delayed several times and is not expected to deliver its findings until at least June.
Manchester City said in a statement: “The club continues to be restricted as to what it can make public at present for legal reasons.
“The club reiterates, however, its heartfelt sympathy to all victims for the unimaginably traumatic experiences that they endured.
“All victims were entitled to expect full protection from the kind of harm they suffered as a result of their sexual abuse as children.”
(c) Sky News 2019: Manchester City abuse compensation payouts could reach six figures